Dating. What could be more exciting for a young teenager to start thinking about? Those big feelings about another person will be totally new and scary. Does he like me? What if she says no if I ask her out? What if I like him and he doesn’t like me? Every teen goes through these kinds of thoughts at some point. So, what would you advise your young friend about dating?
First, date in groups. It is way more fun to go do things as a small group so there isn’t as much pressure to make conversation just between the two of you. You will get a feel for how well you and your date connect be going in a group. You may find you hit it off with someone else in the group that you hadn’t expected. The “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet even recommends group dates at this age.
Second, dating at this stage in your life is for making friends, getting to know others and especially for getting to know yourself. Between now and twenty-four years old, you are going to change in many ways. Don’t feel like you need to have your celestial marriage booked at the temple anytime soon. Just go out and have fun. You will learn what kinds of things you truly enjoy and how to start interacting with others in a social environment. Enjoy it without the pressure of marriage on your mind.
Our former prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “When you are young, do not get involved in steady dating. When you reach an age where you think of marriage, then is the time to become so involved. But you boys who are in high school don’t need this, and neither do the girls.” 1
Third, choose to surround yourself with people who are positive influences on you, who lift you higher and want to see you be successful and happy. We all need a cheering squad in our lives at some time. Surround yourself with your favorite people and they will cheer you through the ups and downs and you become their cheering squad too!
Fourth, if you are feeling uncomfortable or anxious, please trust yourself. You do not have to stay on a date with someone who brings you down. There are sometimes those who would try to manipulate you into staying with them because “they have no one else” or “can’t live without you” and a host of other reasons. If you feel uncomfortable about anything in the relationship, get out. You don’t have to be “the nice guy” when it comes to relationships. Courteous and kind are ideal, but not at the expense of your own well-being.
Fifth, be yourself. In the Disney movie Aladdin, the genie tells him the same thing, that he needs to simply be himself, but he feels like he has to pretend to be a prince in order for the girl to like him. Ultimately, his lie leads to unfortunate consequences, including hurting the friend who cheered him on from the beginning. Learn how to be comfortable as you are. True friends and possible love interests will be drawn to the real you and will love you for who you are.
Go out and be silly. Have fun doing goofy things or planning epic adventures. Whatever you do, enjoy the journey. Adulthood will come soon enough.